Star Hunting and the 2018 Draft

June 21st, 2018: The Day Brett Brown became President.

Call it homerism, recency bias, or the bandwagon effect, but nearly everyone considered Mikal Bridges a no brainer to the Philadelphia 76ers leading up to his selection on Thursday night. Selecting Bridges #10 was a feel good moment for a city who had celebrated the Villanova NCAA national championship just 2 months prior and seen Mikal grow into a formidable 2 way wing talent. To add to the story, Mikal’s mother is VP of Human Resources for the 76ers organization. All of the pieces just felt right. And then Brett Brown became president.

“We are Star hunting, or we are star developing. That’s how you win a championship” – Brett Brown

Brett Brown the coach may have preferred Mikal Bridges to Zhaire Smith for this season. He was very clear in saying that Bridges would have had a firm place in the rotation this coming season had the team kept him. He was even more firm, however in articulating the reasons why this move gets the team closer to the ultimate goal of winning championships.

Trade Details

Philadelphia 76ers send:

Mikal Bridges Selected #10

Phoenix Suns send:

Zhaire Smith Selected #16

2021 Miami Heat First round pick (unprotected)

Considerations

  • Talent – The first thing people will focus in on is the disparity of accomplishment between Bridges and Smith. Brett Brown repeatedly used the phrase 1b when describing how the organization felt about Zhaire as a prospect. This terminology suggests that he felt, while very different players and risk/upside profiles, the team had both rated very closely.
  • Cost – The trading of #10 for #16 actually saves the Sixers $777,500 in committed cap spend for 2018/19. This is a fairly insignificant number until you consider just how close they are to freeing up max money to pay a free agent. This may or may not have factored into the overall decision but may prove to get the team closer to making the money available.
  • 2021 unprotected pick – This pick is a hugely valuable asset for 2 primary reasons. A. The Heat do not have a talent pipeline to improve on their relatively mediocre results of the past 2 seasons. The roster is aging and there is no superstar level prospect in sight for the team. B. As noted in Brett Brown’s presser, 2021 is the year where High School players may be first allowed to enter the draft directly foregoing a one and done season of college. If so, you will see a huge spike in available talent. That year could essentially double the available lottery talent when you consider the addition of HS seniors to the last freshman class of one and dones. This whole concept is worthy of a post of its own.

Zhaire Smith

SFO did not do a proper prospect profile on Zhaire Smith so here is a very quick synopsis.

2018 Pick Number 16 – Zhaire Smith

Height – 6’5”
Weight –199 lbs
Age – 19
Wingspan – 6’9”
Position – Shooting Guard
Strengths – Hyper Athletic with a fluid jumper. great timing for putback dunks. Potential Dunk contestant
Weaknesses – Still somewhat raw offensively. Needs Development
NBA comparison – Kent Bazemore

https://youtu.be/KN_h7s53s2c

Conclusion

Any questions that “The Process” was over were squashed last night. The 2018 draft felt very much like a return to the Sam Hinkie era of having the longest view in the room. Zhaire Smith was the longview player over Mikhail Bridges and the 2021 unprotected first is absolutely an asset that Hinkie would have savored.

Later in the first round the 76ers selected Landry Shamet at 26 and Shake Milton late in the second round. Shamet was considered a bit of a reach but is a bonified shooter and Milton has a top 5 name in the NBA perhaps.

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